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How to Enroll In the Right Physical Therapist Training Program Near El Mirage Arizona

El Mirage Arizona physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballGetting a physical therapist degree near El Mirage AZ is a critical first step to beginning a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Physical therapists (PT) help individuals who have been debilitated as a result of injury or illness gain back function and mobility. But before they can practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they must get the proper training and education. A PT must additionally become licensed in all states, a large number mandating that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before choosing a physical therapy school, it's necessary to investigate the ones you are considering to make sure they will deliver a superior education and meet your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is enroll in a school simply because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the most affordable tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated besides cost and location. But before we discuss what those qualifications are and the questions you should be asking, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

El Mirage Arizona DPT helping female patient to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse locations, including El Mirage AZ private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sports facilities. What the facilities all have in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help people that are experiencing a lack of mobility and frequently pain due to injury or illness. After patient diagnosis, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also try to prevent any progression of the disability. Although the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are numerous, they include:

  • Osteoporosis and Arthritis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sports injuries
  • Fire injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other El Mirage AZ medical professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also oversee one or more physical therapy assistants who work under them assisting with diagnosing and treating their patients. Something to bear in mind for anyone considering entering the physical therapy field, it is rather physically demanding. Physical therapists regularly lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for prolonged periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapist Degrees

El Mirage Arizona physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees offered for students to enroll in at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of these choices, the only degree that is attainable that qualifies the graduate to become a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees target either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to progress to the doctoral level. Below are short explanations of degree levels that are offered to prospective students in the El Mirage AZ area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to be physical therapy assistants, or may be the first step toward earning a more advanced degree. Applicants must have obtained a high school diploma or GED to be accepted for enrollment. The degrees are typically made available by junior or community colleges, and require two years for completion. An internship or other form of clinical training is typically a portion of the program.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are created as pre-physical therapy training to prepare candidates to move up to the doctoral level. Although they are not a requirement to be qualified for the doctoral program, they are an integral first step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they typically take 4 years to finish and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program also must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes 3 years to finish, making the overall commitment seven years in the majority of cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential component in addition to the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is required, not solely for graduation but in several states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer offered in the USA. Some licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapist Colleges Online

El Mirage Arizona female student taking physical therapy training onlineWhile not as prevalent as the on-campus alternatives, there are a number of accredited online physical therapy degrees offered, more so at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on structure of the training, clinical lab work and internships are integrated with the online classes. This requires that the student live close to the school campus or nearby an available internship. However, the online segment of the program can be accessed within the comfort and convenience of the student's El Mirage AZ home. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in a number of instances more economical. Tuition can be significantly lower than similar on campus alternatives, and expenses for commuting are minimized. And many of the online programs are accredited by the CAPTE, guaranteeing a quality education. These benefits may make the online alternative the right choice for those students that are dedicated enough to attend classes at home.

Topics to Ask Physical Therapist Schools

By now you probably have come to decision concerning some of your preliminary queries, including the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to obtain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much money you can afford to spend for your education. But considering there are numerous PT schools within the El Mirage AZ area and throughout Arizona, you'll need to look into other qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of college options. Moreover, you want to make certain that you enroll in the college that is best for you. That's why we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapy programs you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate decision.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have received accreditation from a regional or a national agency. As previously stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you choose an online college, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's imperative that both the physical therapist school and program you enroll in are accredited, not just the school. Additionally, make sure that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with guaranteeing that you receive an excellent education, accreditation may be required for state licensing and even for securing student loans or financial assistance.

What is the Program's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's imperative that the college and program you select have exceptional reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can research a PT school's reputation, beginning with requesting references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Contact some El Mirage AZ physical therapy centers or other healthcare facilities that you may have an interest in working for and ask if they can give you any insight about your school options. It may also be prudent to contact the Arizona Attorney General and school licensing authority to see if any complaints have been submitted against the schools.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? There are a couple of useful statistics that you should know about each of the physical therapist programs you are reviewing. First is their graduation rate. A low rate may mean that students left due to displeasure with the program, the teachers, or both. After the students have graduated, what percentage of them are being hired with the assistance of the school's job placement program, particularly in the El Mirage AZ area? If a program has a high job placement rate, it suggests that its reputation within the healthcare community is good or even excellent. It also confirms that the college has a broad network of contacts to assist students gain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the College Prepare You For Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the college you select provides both excellent training and a course of study that supports the licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. In every state a passing score is required on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapist school. Although licensing requirements vary state by state for PT and PTA graduates, many states require a minimum amount of clinical hours be completed and passing scores on supplemental exams.

Are Internships Provided? Ask if the physical therapist schools you are interested in have relationships with El Mirage AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to receive practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional relationships in the El Mirage medical community and assist with obtaining employment once licensed.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapy colleges you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program also.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy college they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their El Mirage AZ residence. Students who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Help Offered? Most DPT schools supply some form of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are looking at have a financial aid department and see what kind of help is obtainable. They at least should help in securing a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. A number of physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before you eliminate a school because the tuition is beyond your budget, ask what financial assistance might be available.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the physical therapist program you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the El Mirage AZ area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.

Learn More About El Mirage Physical Therapist Courses

Enroll in the Best El Mirage Physical Therapist School

Deciding on the best physical therapist program is a necessary initial decision you need to make to start a rewarding career in the healthcare profession. As we have discussed in this article, the PT or DPT degree program and school you choose should both have outstanding reputations and be accredited. But there are additional relevant questions that you need to ask concerning your school of choice also. As you begin your search for a physical therapy school bear in mind that numerous variables will guide you toward your final decision. You may decide to go to different colleges to see their facilities and talk with active DPT students. While there, ask yourself this critical question: will this program help me accomplish my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By adhering to our list of additional questions, you will be able to narrow down the options so you can make the best choice. And with the proper training and education, you can fulfill your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in El Mirage Arizona.


 

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